When you measure the promise of capitalism against its actual historical progress in the United States, it needs to be given the proverbial pink slip. Its resume & references were obviously inflated to the extreme. Adam Smith made us believe that an Invisible Hand would magically guide all participants in the free market toward the best possible outcome for all involved.
He lied! That invisible hand is more like a pickpocket’s than some benign, divine mathematician’s. It’s not the hand of God, it’s the hand of Greed.
A society duped into allowing a principle as violent and corrupting as Greed to be their basis of interacting with each other gets what they asked for: a proper fleecing by the wealthiest among them.
Apologists for the Greed system (who generously provide their free PR for those who don’t need it) nowadays blame capitalism’s failures on the measures adopted by previous generations to slap back that pick-pocketing hand. Just get rid of those nefarious socialist measures which cripple the Invisible Hand, and the rising tide will raise all boats, they claim. (Never mind the facts about how expensive those big old boats are, leaving so many treading water, and losing strength fast).
It’s not the safety net’s fault that people fall; they are walking the tightrope assigned to them by a system inherently corrupt and riddled with logical contradictions. Go ahead, get rid of the safety nets of socialist policies, but not before you replace the tightrope with a four-lane highway! Ah, but that’s a little too much opportunity for their comfort; too much equality is the worst enemy of the Survival of the Wealthiest system.
Capitalism promises that everyone will benefit from free market activity. History demonstrates that what has always applied to the dynamic of the wealthy ruling (rule-making) classes vs the poorer working classes also applies when all of them drink the capitalist’s Koolaid. Namely, that the rich remain on top by putting their own interests above that of all other classes; that poorer classes have two choices regarding their upward mobility: 1) sacrifice it so those already on top of the wealth ladder get to remain up top, or 2) take an ax to the ladder and chop everyone down to the ground.
But those up top abhor the idea of level playing fields. That’s why they got everyone to create a new kind of do-nothing royal class, the “successful capitalist.” The way they’ve duped the working classes, drowning in sink-or-swim wages, into becoming their loudest cheerleaders even as their Capitalist Invisible Hand is robbing them of any real chance to experience economic freedom… That’s the most disgusting part of the whole charade.
Capitalism looks so good on paper. In theory, it might work for a small society of truly equal peers who all knew and respected one another. At the global international scale of modern capitalism, however, the tactics of those who control the vast majority of the wealth (which they increasingly use simply to accumulate more of it) are much too sophisticated for those without the means or the opportunity to compete fairly.
And just like the US military has learned to Never Fight Fair, never entering a battle without stacking the odds overwhelmingly in favor of victory, those whose families are already overwhelmingly financially successful have asymmetrically powerful measures to remain right where they are — on top of the world.
A personal note: to me, this discussion is of little practical utility, like fiddling while Rome burns. But I enjoy fiddling and remain quite content with the little I have. I don’t envy the wealthy their lifetime of warfare against the popular forces clamoring for equality of opportunity, level battlefields, and those expensive safety nets. I’m a pacifist in the class war. What makes me speak up is when people write, speak, vote, and spend against their own well-being, playing right into the tactics of people who do not have their welfare in mind.
I do not blame those who inherited a toxic and harmful system for doing what that system demands of them. I blame the system! And I try to do my part to advocate for alternative systems, or at least to guard our necessary freedom to create and discuss improvements to the system we inherited. Too many adopt a tone which tends to shut out discussion of alternatives as if we have a moral obligation to any particular economic system. (We don’t!).